It’s coming up on the holiday season. We’ve just enjoyed Halloween, our kids are still splurging on their trick or treating spoils, and all of us are looking forward to delicious food and desserts we only get to enjoy once every year. As we are among the best dentists in Boston, we have some thoughts about how to protect your teeth during the holidays.
1. Consume in Moderation
Cavities are always a real possibility, but with the extra sugary foods around, the risk of developing one is higher. While many people think of cavities as a problem for kids, they can also be an issue for adults who aren’t careful about how much sugar they eat through the day. We suggest eating sugar and drinking sugary drinks in moderation while balancing eating non-sugary foods as well so that you don’t overconsume sugary treats. It is the constant addition of sugar and letting it remain in your mouths that feeds the bacteria responsible for cavities. Enjoy your treats, but limit them, and clean your teeth often, which leads us to #2.
2. Practice Good Dental Hygiene
It’s important to keep in mind that all of these goodies can lead to cavities if you don’t take the proper measures.
Brushing your teeth after eating desserts, candy, or even after a meal, will help remove any excess sugars in your smile so your oral health won’t suffer. By doing this, you will be able to remove any leftover food particles and keep dental plaque from building up, hardening into tartar, which might cause damage to your teeth and gums.
Dental plaque starts as a thin, sticky film, which you can feel over the surface of your teeth. It is the waste from oral bacteria. Feeding the bacteria with so much sugar allows it to reproduce, and the more bacteria there are, the more waste they create. Yes, its bacteria poop that accumulates and begins to destroy the minerals of your teeth, other substances from your saliva, and even absorbs some of the air you breathe. Without healthy saliva, teeth are vulnerable, and your mouth is dry. Dry mouth contributes to tooth decay. If plaque is allowed to build up and harden, you will need to come in for a professional cleaning to remove it. Luckily, plaque itself is easy to clean at home with the right tools and habits.
3. Use Fluoride Toothpaste and Mouth Wash
Holidays are filled with sweets, amazing food and wine, but overly exposing teeth and gums to bacteria that can lead to tooth decay. Fluoride can help protect your teeth and smile from cavities.
Fluoride is an ingredient found in most toothpastes that helps strengthen tooth enamel against the acids from the bacterial waste on the surface of your teeth. It strengthens weak spots in the enamel, exposed roots, and helps prevent the early stages of tooth decay. If you slow the breakdown of enamel, you are actively saving your own smile. Since minerals are lost as the acids destroy the enamel, fluoride increases the rate of the remineralization process. So, it not only prevents decay, but strengthens the teeth.
It’s incredibly important that your dental hygiene products have fluoride so that you can keep your smile happy and healthy.
4. Drink Water Directly After Eating Sweets
Of course, you won’t always have the option to go brush your teeth directly after every treat or dessert, so drinking water after snacking on sweets can help wash away some of the sugars left on your teeth. Ideally, the water should have fluoride in it. Many water systems add fluoride to the drinking water we get from the tap. Bottled water may not include fluoride, so while it’s important to be hydrated, think of the fluoride you’re missing from drinking tap water too. If your drinking water is not fluoridated, we will take a look at the surface of your teeth in an exam and may recommend that you use high-concentration fluoride treatments, such as tables or drops, if we find evidence of demineralization.
Take good care of your teeth this holiday season and all of us here at Dental Partners of Boston hope you fully enjoy the wonderful times ahead! Call us anytime to schedule an appointment for professional cleanings and check-ups. Let’s keep those pearly whites healthy.